Botha ruled out of WC opener

by staff

Bakkies Botha has lost his battle to be fit for South Africa's opening World Cup game, against Wales on Sunday. The powerful lock has been troubled by an achilles problem and is replaced by Danie Rossouw.

Rossouw's second-row partner will be the 107-times-capped Victor Matfield, who features in the starting line-up despite suffering from a hamstring niggle this week.

The coach Peter de Villiers has named the most experienced Springboks team in history, boasting 815 caps. It surpasses the previous highest of 810 against Australia in Durban last month.

There are five changes from South Africa's last game, an 18-5 Tri Nations victory over New Zealand three weeks ago, with Rossouw, the full-back Frans Steyn, the prop Tendai Mtawarira, the captain John Smit and the flanker Schalk Burger all recalled.

De Villiers has gone for five forwards on the bench, including the flanker Willem Alberts, who played a starring role as a substitute when South Africa fought back to beat Wales in Cardiff last year.

There are 11 players in the starting XV who were part of South Africa's victorious 2007 World Cup squad, including the wing Bryan Habana, who needs one try to break Joost van der Westhuizen's Springboks Test record of 38 touchdowns.

South Africa have won 23 of their previous 25 games against Wales, although Sunday's Pool D encounter is their first World Cup meeting.

Team: F Steyn; J P Pietersen, J Fourie, J de Villiers, B Habana; M Steyn, F du Preez; T Mtawarira, J Smit (capt), J du Plessis, D Rossouw, V Matfield, H Brussow, S Burger, P Spies.

Replacements: B du Plessis, G Steenkamp, C J van der Linde, J Muller, W Alberts, F Hougaard, B James.